Monday, September 1

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

(see map) mike: Known as Saigon until 1976, Ho Chi Minh City feels a lot like Hanoi. They share the same motorbike excitement, cyclo taxis, sidewalk restaurants, and women sporting conical hats. Having honed our street crossing ability in Hanoi we thankfully acclimated much easier.

Our first site was the Reunification Palace which is analogous to our White House. The fall of Saigon occurred here (wikipedia info) when tank 843 crashed through its gates and raised the North Vietnamese flag signifying "liberation and reunification" of Vietnam.

Preserved today as a museum, its 1960s/70s decor includes a red velvet movie theater and this gambling room/lounge Austin Powers would surely be proud to call his own.

Reunification Palace Bar

The latter half of the tour took us into the extensive underground wartime command center of the South Vietnamese.

The original communication and electrical system are still on display which I instinctively presented to the group as the first SmartBits.

After the palace we happened upon a packed techno blasting restaurant & bar complete with motorbike valet. The youthful 100% Vietnamese crowd (excluding us) was slowly sipping cocktails and enjoying conversation. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Trin asking me "can we take them all home?" at a mobile dog shop.

Next we checked out the War Remnants Museum which contains exhibits and graphic photos detailing America's use of agent orange, napalm (flammable liquids), and extensive civilian bombing during the war. The visit was a sobering view (though one sided) of the brutality of war and seeing it from the perspective of the North Vietnamese was definitely eye opening.

See more photos. Warning: Very graphic.

From here we'd catch a bus to Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

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